Culture & the Family

| December 14, 2014

Dr. Coburn comes home

In the fifth century B.C., on a farm outside of Rome, there lived a man named Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus who, when his country was in crisis, stepped away from his plow, assumed great authority, and led his people to better times. Then he voluntarily relinquished that power and went home — twice.

Cincinnatus came to mind as we watched Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s farewell address on the Senate floor on Dec. 11. Like Cincinnatus, he answered his country’s call on two occasions, when he was elected to Congress in 1994 and again when he went to the Senate 10 years ago. Like Cincinnatus, he voluntarily laid those titles and honors aside. And like Cincinnatus, Tom Coburn left his nation better than he found it through his selfless service and sacrifice.

His farewell address was a mirror of his career in public service, which also included service as an OCPA trustee. America was founded on basic constitutional principles of limited government and balanced powers, he reminded his colleagues. The founders were wise, he suggested, and that wisdom is still reflected in our founding documents for anyone who takes the time to read them.

And he reminded us that “one Senator” can have value when he stands for those principles. Throughout his time in Washington, that one Senator was Tom Coburn.

From his stirring, commonsensical speeches to his annual compilations of government waste, the Coburn era was one in which everyone in Oklahoma and everyone in Washington knew exactly where he stood. That was obvious at each election when the voters here at home re-elected him with resounding majorities.

We knew we had something special from his first moments in the public spotlight. Here was a man of firm and unwavering principle with absolutely zero personal ambition. He could have taken the easy way and stayed home in Muskogee, practicing his first love of medicine. But he stepped away from that plow like Cincinnatus, and now he returns to it. And Oklahoma says thank you to perhaps the best man who has ever represented us in Washington.

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